Every year, around this time, I have to make a ‘final’ decision for year 6 teacher assessments. I assume these are reported out to government somewhere, though they might just go on record and hang about until OFSTED decide to visit and scrutinise everything with their beady eyes. I also say ‘final’ using inverted commas because, whilst this really is the last official piece of assessment I’ll do for the year 6s, there are still 4 weeks left. It’s not truly final… there are 4 weeks left. We don’t just sit and twiddle thumbs in this time – progress can still be made. There are 4 whole weeks left!
This year has been particularly interesting and I find myself scratching my head furiously over this set of assessments, more so than either of the two sets of year 6s I’ve sent off before. Back in September, we had little to no idea how assessment would look at the end of the year. Thankfully, we have a pretty good system in place for their day-to-day assessments, but their final set has to be based off the interim assessments. I link to that not to encourage you to get your head around what a year 6 pupil apparently should know, but out of interest for anyone who wants to see the ridiculousness that is teacher assessment.
Firstly, these interim guidance pages clearly state that they’re for use when considering a final assessment only. They shouldn’t be used throughout the year, and they certainly should be the only thing being used for assessments. That’s good (phew!) because this is the first time I’ve looked at them properly all year. I’ve had the occasional skim over them, just out of interest, but couldn’t remember what was in them. Now, I sit here with my highlighters, year 6 books and a big mug of coffee it seems quite strange… Think about it: essentially, the Education Department are saying “these are the things we want year 6s to know, but don’t teach them throughout the year, and certainly don’t be checking to make sure they’re able to do these things throughout the year. You’re only allowed to look at them at the end of the year.” Seems odd, right? Surely the better system would be to send us a copy of these and say “stick these on your bedroom walls; this is your guide to getting your children to complete year 6 with flying colours, which is exactly what we want. Learn these standards, memorise these standards, and certainly be checking through the year how your children are doing through them!”. Hmm.
Looking over the maths, reading and writing, I can see that the expectations match up nicely to what we’ve been learning all year though. That’s good. What’s not so good is the huge difference between these expectations and the ones from last year – this year’s 11 year-olds are expected to know a whole lot more. And they’ve not been given any extra time to learn more, we’ve still only been given a year to pull everyone up what is essentially a whole extra level (on top of the previously ‘expected progress’ I might add). Gove and Morgan must’ve had a wild night and decided they’ve got the best idea in the world after a few too many glasses of cava. I can imagine it now:
“I’ve got an idea to raise standards! [Hiccup] We’ll just make everything a whole level harder for the kids. That’ll mean the teachers will have to cram in almost two years worth of learning into one year. [Hiccup] And… and, we’ll give them more stuff to teach, and… hey, we’ll even get rid of levels so all teachers have to make up and learn a new assessment system whilst they do this!”
Smashing idea, folks! Anyway, I digress. What the real problem with this is that children, and their parents, and their teachers, and their headteachers, shouldn’t feel that expectations haven’t been met simply because the goalposts have been moved. Without sounding like a child, it’s simply not fair.
Oh, and before I get back to finishing off reading over the exemplification materials, I’ll leave this list here. Below is the list of expectations to be working at expected (where the government say all children should be working) in KS2 science. Seriously, how are the children supposed to be able to first of all learn all this in a year, and retain it if they’ve been taught it in previous years. I’m convinced there’s enough below to teach over the whole of Key Stage 2.
Welcome to the Primary Education system in Britain, folks. It’s all fun and games.
The pupil can name, locate and describe the functions of the main parts of the digestive, musculoskeletal, and circulatory systems, and can describe and compare di erent reproductive processes and life cycles, in animals.
The pupil can describe the e ects of diet, exercise, drugs and lifestyle on how their bodies function.
The pupil can name, locate and describe the functions of the main parts of plants, including those involved in reproduction and transporting water and nutrients.
The pupil can use the observable features of plants, animals and micro-organisms to group, classify and identify them into broad groups, using keys or in other ways.
The pupil can construct and interpret food chains.
The pupil can explain how environmental changes may have an impact on living things.
The pupil can use the basic ideas of inheritance, variation and adaptation to describe how living things have changed over time and evolved; and describe how fossils are formed and provide evidence for evolution.
The pupil can group and identify materials, including rocks, in di erent ways according to their properties, based on rst-hand observation; and justify the use of di erent everyday materials for di erent uses, based on their properties.
The pupil can describe the characteristics of di erent states of matter and group materials on this basis; and can describe how materials change state at di erent temperatures, using this to explain everyday phenomena, including the water cycle.
The pupil can identify, and describe what happens when dissolving occurs in everyday situations; and describe how to separate mixtures and solutions into
The pupil can identify, with reasons, whether changes in materials are reversible or not.
The pupil can use the idea that light from light sources, or re ected light, travels in straight lines and enters our eyes to explain how we see objects, and the formation, shape and size of shadows.
The pupil can use the idea that sounds are associated with vibrations, and that they require a medium to travel through, to explain how sounds are made and heard.
The pupil can describe the relationship between the pitch of a sound and the features of its source; and between the volume of a sound, the strength of the vibrations and the distance from its source.
The pupil can describe the e ects of simple forces that involve contact (air and water resistance, friction), and others that act at a distance (magnetic forces, including those between like and unlike magnetic poles; and gravity).
The pupil can identify simple mechanisms, including levers, gears and pulleys that increase the e ect of a force.
The pupil can use simple apparatus to construct and control a series circuit, and describe how the circuit may be a ected when changes are made to it; and use recognised symbols to represent simple series circuit diagrams.
The pupil can describe the shapes and relative movements of the sun, moon, earth and other planets in the solar system; and explain the apparent movement of the sun across the sky in terms of the earth’s rotation and that this results in day and night.